Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, cool, and we can help you out. Here, we take a closer look at several aspects of the episode. As always, SPOILERS from here on out.
(Author’s Note: Yes, I’m aware Willy was a dolphin and I call the Purrgil ‘space whales’ on multiple occasions. I’m entirely okay with the inaccuracy.)
This week’s episode of Star wars Rebels, entitled The Call, begins with a most fantastical sight: space whales. What’s weird about this entrance – besides the obvious – is that only Ezra can hear their whale song. And what is it that they’re singing, you may/may not be asking? ‘Welcome, puny humin,’ they are saying, ‘to one of the weirdest episodes of Rebels you’ll ever see.’ They’re right, too, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Call was a light-hearted, beautiful, admittedly shallow episode, and one that I enjoyed almost every minute of. However, I’d like to highlight something that Star Wars Report’s Bethany Blanton mentioned in the comments on a previous review, something that very much applied for this episode – and not in a very good way.
It seems like it happens every week with our Spectres: they’re in a tight spot and come up with a barely-there plan to get out of it/complete their primary objective. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, often because it’s a hastily put together plan, or more likely because they don’t communicate at all well and one of them* goes off the rails. It does usually pay off for them, but I can conceive of this becoming a problem, both in and out of universe.
*Not naming names but it rhymes with Fezra. Shuddup I know that’s not a word.
Out of universe, it can be a quick pathway to lazy and rote storytelling (i.e. the dark side), and if things can get too repetitive, it can turn the viewer off. If we’re getting the same story every week, only with different set dressing, what’s there to keep us interested? What’s going to keep us invested in the story when, no matter the danger, we know that their hastily reshaped plan will see them through? Maybe a little battered, sure, but ultimately going on to fight another day.
But this could also be something of a long con; the writers could be playing us. In universe, our Spectres may gripe about sudden changes in plans, but they’ll know that it mostly works. With that in the back of their mind, they could go into each subsequent mission thinking, ‘eh, so we have the broad strokes of a plan. We can just make things up as we go along.’ And this can certainly work for them, but much like lazy writing, it’s lazy thinking, too. And when your life is on the line, that’s just the sort of thing to get you killed.
To return briefly to our own universe, look to [INSERT YOUR OWN COUNTRY OF ORIGIN HERE]’s special forces. For me, that’s the SAS, who train day in and day out becoming proficient at whatever scenario they may encounter. Their training doesn’t stop there: Several years ago there was a siege at the Iranian embassy in London. In preparation for their assault, the SAS obtained the schematics for the embassy and hastily made a set based on these floor plans. For hours they trained, going through these rooms one by one, clearing of them of (fake) enemy combatants, until they had learned the building layout off by heart, and their actions became muscle memory. Their efforts paid off when the siege ended, with only one loss of life.
Now to apply that to Rebels – this is what planning and attention to detail gets you: survival. Nothing can really stop a well aimed blaster shot, or even a random one, but being able to rely on your teammates means you can more effectively operate and see the day through. And it would be great to see this innatention to planning have some real consequences for the Spectres. It would show that the writers are cognizant of the fact that they’re relying on the same type of narrative steps for a large number of episodes. It would also demonstrate to us the audience that the show is capable of depth by demonstrating that such blithe acts have far-reaching consequences – something that the show has not shown much of thus far (that said, it is early days). Oh my, it sounds as though I’m quite eager for our heroes to die. That’s not the case at all.
And on a totally unrelated note …
Though I may have taken a brief potshot at Ezra earlier, for all of my disliking of him, I absolutely must be fair: he was not too bad this episode. Sure, he messed up the plan, and yes, he wasn’t at all listening in the first place, but considering he had just connected (while in Ghost, that is. I don’t mean the mind-meld he experiences later) with an intra-galactic migratory sentient species, his spaced-outness was entirely understandable. Not just that, but he demonstrated a strong empathy for their situation and immediately sought to help them, no matter the danger to himself or his fellow Spectres (but again being fair, he should have better communicated the situation to his teammates), and he managed all this while maintaining a good degree of maturity. Add to that his powers are growing to a degree that he, and not Kanan, could hear their whale song and could connect to them while Kanan was busy practicing his Resting Smug Face ™ points to his character developing into one that I can actively root for. Yippee!
The Science of Star Wars
There is none. Move along.
This being one of the few episodes where Hera actually gets some screen time, she even manages to get her own mini arc. That is to say, she hates the space whales (known as purrgils, if we’re being technical) in the beginning, whereas at the end she doesn’t – still pretty thin on the ground, but I’ll take it. She should really watch some nature documentaries; I feel that they would have changed her outlook a lot quicker and involved less death.
Wait a second, can we have that? A nature documentary set in the Star Wars galaxy, that is. Narrated by David Attenborough, of course.
But that brings me to an uncomfortable comparison. As we see in the beginning, Hera is more than happy to shoot these sentient creatures, despite the fact that they are running desperately low on power. Later, we see the Mining Guild do just that, and they have all the power on the planetoid for their cannons. And though we do get some sympathetic reasoning behind Hera’s motivation, the fact that both the hero and the villain wish to perform the same action within a span of ten minutes is a little discomforting.
Full disclosure: I prefer not to read articles based on episodes or items that I know I’ll review. Prior to writing this, I had read this article by Eleven-Thirtyeight, which touches upon this very subject and so I’ll say no more. I’d highly recommend you reading it, too.
And though I thought it was slightly out of character for her wanting to blast these irksome yet majestic creatures, since it gives us even a minor look into her past and inner thoughts, I gladly welcome its inclusion.Powered by Sidelines